Thursday 30 April 2015

Serendipity & new resources - Genealogy notes 23-30 Apr 2015

I am starting this week's Diary post with one of the best blog posts for genealogy/family history societies I have seen in a while. It is Long Lost Relatives aka Susan Petersen's An open letter to genealogy societies and I can relate to all of her points and mostly agreeing. Although regular readers will know that I am still pretty much a paper based reader but then that is probably because I do most of my reading in bed and the only technology in the bedroom is the ancient clock radio. I am a member of five societies at the moment and renewal is coming up and I am seriously thinking of letting my membership lapse for some of them. Why pay for something that you don't use or get value for?

Part of the Anzac Day parade on Bribie 2015
Anzac Day was huge on Bribie Island and Max also had his RAAF reunion here so there was lots of social activities over the weekend. The parade on Bribie was bigger again this year and it is great to see all the schools involved too. For a small island, Bribie has two primary schools and one high school and an amazing number of children when seen all together. The distance was too far for Max and his walking stick but we watched the parade and attended the service at the Bribie RSL.
Max before the service at Bribie RSL

Last week I wrote about her I was trying to see if Mum was the last of her generation and I said there were two olders cousins still unaccounted for. The very next day I received an email contact via Ancestry from the son of one of those cousins (which was a little spooky or is that serendipity) to say that his mother and her older sister are still alive. Wow. Since then he has updated me on that side of the family as I have not been in touch with them since the 1980s.

Finding cousins (several times removed) is so much easier these days, especially if they have put their family history interests online in a subscription database or one of the free sites. If they are blogging their family stories that is another plus as Google can search and find them for us. I find it ever so much more effective than the old genealogical research directories that we paid to put our names into together with a broad date range and county.

In the last month I have been contacted on three different family lines because they have found my interests online somewhere. The information all three has filled gaps in my own knowledge of the family and I am going to meet one of them in a few weeks to see family memorabilia in person. We live a few hours apart but will be meeting somewhere in the middle. All very exciting.

Serendipity also played a role in my Week 37 Military Histories and Unit War Diaries entry in my personal blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. While I knew about those resources I had not used them before so if I hadn't gone to the talk, I would not have been inspired to look. We never know when and where we are going to find clues for our family history. If you have not seen or used these resources read my Week 37 post.

Work continues on my Occupations course for the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. When you start to focus on a particular subject area it is amazing how many 'new' resources you discover as one thing always leads to another. This is my way of saying I am easily distracted by fascinating websites and start looking for my own families instead of keeping up the writing. Really the internet just has to be the most fantastic resource for family history but it's not all online yet.

Updating my talk on what the voyage was like for Sunday's seminar at Southern Suburbs Branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland also made me realise how much easier research has become as I first gave a version of this talk back in the 1980s. Newspapers are now digitised and online (but not all), as are photographs of ships, many shipboard diaries have been digitised and again, I was distracted and went looking for information on my families. However, my talk now has some fascinating new snippets on my own research so a win win.

My next blog post and article for The In-Depth Genealogist were finished just in time (end of the month is the deadline). The blog is a series of posts on some of my favourite research institutions in Australia and as we have so many great archives and libraries I suspect it will go on for quite some time. With the articles I am taking a subject approach and like the examples above, I am finding new information myself just researching and writing these posts and articles.

I am pleased to say that some events are starting to come through for National Family History Month which is now only three months away. Next week I will be doing a blog post on it to let everyone know what is new this year and what they can look forward to in August. Remember to remind your local society to add their August events into the web calendar to be eligible for the wonderful sponsors prizes for societies.

It is a very wet weekend here so I have stacked up all my paper genealogy magazines received over the last couple of months and am planning a nice time sitting back reading. I also have quite a few digital copies to read too but sitting at this desk is not quite as appealing as the recliner lounge. I must learn to use my IPad better - I do have some digital books on there but most of my magazines are on the laptop.

No doubt there will be lots of things I will want to follow up from my reading so I'm guessing before too long I will be back at my desk, one of my family history folders on the table beside me, looking up a website to see if I can find anything on the family that I have not already got. Just as well we need to eat, drink and sleep otherwise I would always be at this desk!

Only one more month of autumn then winter will be upon us. But then winter up here is not quite like it is down south. While I miss those wonderful autumn colours, I don't miss those frosty mornings. Have a great genealogy week and I hope you are making as many exciting discoveries as I am. Until next time.

Thursday 23 April 2015

ANZAC Day, Digital Memories & Death Records - Genealogy Notes 17-23 Apr 2015

Another huge week with lots happening on my own personal genealogy as well as going to genealogy seminars and National Family History Month ramping up. First up I went to Colleen Fitzpatrick's three Brisbane seminars and you can read my review here.

I also participated in Kintalk's Trans Tasman ANZAC Day blog challenge. This year's tribute was to Alexander Thomas Davis my cousin three times removed who received a gun shot wound to the head in France and died of wounds shortly after arriving back home at Toorbul. Read my tribute to Alexander here.

The Queenslander, 8 Jan 1916 courtesy
State Library of Queensland
The latest issue of Queensland's Registry of BDM's Family History Journal has a military article on my three great uncles Robert, John and Denis Finn who all enlisted in WW1. The Registry describes me as an 'avid supporter' - my online dictionary says that is someone who is enthusiastic, keen, ardent, devoted, dedicated, zealous and fanatic. Yep, I guess that is me! To subscribe (free) and read their really interesting journal and find out what's happening in Queensland BDMs visit this link.

My mother's draft family history progresses and I bought her a small book Dear Mum from me to you: journal of a lifetime which is basically a series of questions about her childhood, parents, marriage, children and so on. I thought it would be a good idea if Mum jotted down her memories in this journal and I could incorporate some of them into the family history. Well she did short answers to the first three questions and then it was all a bit hard with her arthritic fingers.

Not to be defeated I went back with a digital recorder and said all she had to do was read the question and then give her answer. I showed her the on/off buttons and away she went. I came back a little while later and she had totally finished the whole book, when I had been expecting her to take days, if not weeks. I haven't worked my way through the questions yet but some of her memories seem quite short. Perhaps I can go back with further questions after she has thought about things more. At least I am getting a bit more than the usual 'what do you want to know that for?'.

The other thing I was trying to confirm (or not) was that Mum is the last of her generation. I have thought this might be true for some time so I set about trying to get death dates for her cousins if I didn't already have them. This led to some interesting discoveries in Ancestry and My Heritage where I know some of my relatives have put their family trees. For those lines were no one is actively following the families, I did searches in Brisbane City Council's Grave Location Search, Moreton Bay Regional Council's cemetery database and the Ryerson Index and picked up a few more death dates.

Mum's youngest brother Cyril who saw service in WW2,
Mount Thompson crematorium  
I had heard that Mount Thompson crematorium was also now online but had never looked before. Well there went a few hours! Not only is it online but there are images of the plaques so even though I have photos taken back in the 1980s I was able to see more up to date images and in quite a few cases, additional people had been added to some family plaques. However, if your person does not have a memorial then they don't appear in the search results. At least mine don't.

The interesting thing about the Heaven's Address site is that it also links to other crematoriums and memorial gardens (not just Queensland) and is definitely worth a visit to see if one of your families final resting places is included.

I was then left with only a couple of names other than Mum's. So I did a Google search on their names using inverted commas around the names. Worked a treat for one of them! I found Betty Isabel White listed on the Gympie Funerals website and the last time I corresponded with the family they were in the Gympie area. The information is basically what would have appeared in the local newspaper announcing the funeral. I wasn't so lucky with the other two cousins (sisters) but if still alive, they would be older than Mum. Looks like I will have to try and find some of my own cousins to solve the question of whether Mum is the last of her generation.

There are quite a few talks coming up in May so I will be out and about again. The first is a seminar being held by Southern Suburbs branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland. It is on 3 May and includes 4 talks all on immigration topics. Details are here but it is a great opportunity to hear Eric and Rosemary Kopittke, Helen Smith and myself. Great value at $20 (in advance) for the day but you do need to bring your own lunch or buy it nearby. Other talks coming up can be found on the Events page of my website.

I have been adding some events to the National Family History Month web calendar but I would love to see more events added. Genealogy and family history societies who enter an event before 30 June 2015 will receive a gift certificate from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. Full details on the Sponsors page.

Tomorrow we have the ANZAC Day dawn service and parade on Bribie Island plus there is the RAAF reunion which kicks off tonight with dinner at the Bribie RSL and ends on Sunday with a BBQ lunch. So not a lot of genealogy will be done this weekend but I am hoping to catch some of Max's military stories. Now that I have dusted off the digital recorder he is next on my list of subjects.

We will all be remembering our military ancestors this weekend, the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli. One of Max's cousins, Tasman Jarvis died on 25 Apr 1915 at Gallipoli, My tribute blog post to him was on 24 Apr 2010 and you can read it here. Until next week, happy searching.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Maryborough, Memories & the Unexpected - Genealogy Notes 11-16 Apr 2015

Maryborough Family Heritage Research Institute
Maryborough Family Heritage Research Institute
This week's Diary is a little early as it is Mum's 81st birthday party this weekend and I know I won't get time to write this at her place. The three talks went well in Maryborough (QLD) and I think there are some lessons for all genealogy and family history societies in my trip. So I blogged about the experience, why not read Genealogy Society Seminars - Why You Should Have Them. As usual, I put the talks online and you can find them on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

After last week's Diary I was thrilled to receive some advice on including photos in my mother's draft family history from fellow geneablogger Library Currants. It sounds so easy reading her notes, but when you are working alone at home things can seem difficult and too hard. So remember there is an online circle of geneafriends out there to seek advice from and this is yet another example of how blogging can pay off.  Yes it is great for cousin bait but we can also seek assistance from others who are doing the same things we are.

I neglected to mention that I took Nathan Dylan Goodwin's Orange Lilies with me to the AFFHO Congress in Canberra. The plan was that I would read it at night before bed but each night I arrived back at the hotel too tired to read anything. Anyway I have now managed to catch up with the adventures of Morton Farrier, forensic genealogist (fictional) and his investigations into his own family history. Now I can't wait for the next book to come out.

I also managed to finish The Convict Theatres of Early Australia, 1788-1840 by Robert Jordan recently republished as an e-book by Currency House. Read my review here. I didn't think this book would have anything directly relevant to my own family history research but I was wrong. There is a whole chapter on Norfolk Island and as we have a convict family in the First Settlement this started me wondering if they were theatre goers.

Tonight there is a Google Hangout with Geniaus looking back on Congress which I am planning to attend. It is a little easier now as daylight saving has finished and it is a more suitable time for me. Plus I won't get confused as to what time it really is on. Details here.

As well as Mum's party at the weekend, I am also going to the Colleen Fitzpatrick (real life forensic genealogist) seminars in Brisbane, co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Queensland and the Queensland Family History Society. There are three talks which I have not heard before and an opportunity to catch up with my Brisbane geneafriends. No doubt both societies will also be selling their publications so temptation will probably be present as well.

The other major occupier of my time is Trove as they have now started to release some of the digitised issues of the Brisbane Telegraph and there are literally dozens and dozens of references to my families in the newspaper. Some of the information I have already got from the Courier Mail but in a lot of cases there is more information in the Telegraph or it is only in the Telegraph. This means I need to check every reference. Some entries are not yet available and some look really exciting so I have asked to be emailed when they go live.

anzac poppies AWM 2Next week I have to do my contribution to Kintalk's Trans Tasman ANZAC Day blog challenge and on the ANZAC day weekend there is an RAAF reunion on Bribie Island so we will be going to quite a few functions between Friday and Sunday. The march is on Saturday but Max won't be walking this year as his ankle and leg are still recovering from his fall at the end of January. I have offered to wheel him in the wheelchair or he could go with the older guys in the community vehicles but that is not quite the same as marching himself.

The must do item on my list is to continue the Australian occupations course I am writing for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I had been doing quite nicely with that but Max's broken leg, Congress and Easter were all big distractions. Hopefully I will slip easily back into where I was up to and complete it over the next few weeks. I need to clear the decks as National Family History Month will be gaining momentum from May onwards as I add events to the web calendar and start doing some publicity. How quickly a year passes!

Until next week, happy searching.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Blogs, Awards and Progress - Genealogy Notes 4-10 April 2015

An interesting week with some genealogy research progress. While at Congress I had asked Sylvia from FIBIS (Families in British India Society) about our Tasmanian convict who died in Darjeeling India and since then she has helped me learn a bit more about the Oakley family in India.

In one of my talks I tell people not to have tunnel vision and to broaden out their thinking. This is MY example of tunnel vision because Sylvia also said I could have found out some of this information earlier by doing a Findmypast search. When I use FMP I think of the UK, Ireland and Australasia but of course it is much more than that. I feel a little silly now but that is one way we learn, by talking to others about our research and by making sure we make the most of websites we visit. No matter how many years of research we have under our belts, it is hard to keep up with everything new and sometimes we forget the obvious.

My other big learning exercise for the week was tackling my mother's draft family history in Word. I have made some good progress on revising text, style and I have inserted lots of photos. And that is where I started to come unstuck. I have always had trouble with images in Word and adding captions seems that little bit harder. Previously I had all the end notes at the end of the draft but I thought it would look better at the end of each chapter. That's not quite working out either. But then again I have learnt lots of other things about Word so still making progress.

I have started writing Australasian articles and blog posts for the In-Depth Genealogist and my first article appeared in the March issue of Going In-Depth and two blog posts have been published. I need a better way of raising my notifications about when they are published as I keep missing them. It is probably in my settings and with the Congress rush I haven't had time to sort myself out. I have also been exploring the resources on their website and although mostly US centric at the moment, there are some resources I want to explore further when time permits. And there is my GGG grandfather in Minnesota to follow up.

My personal genealogy blog challenge continues and Week 36 was on Hospital Records. Kintalk's Trans Tasman Anzac Day genealogy blog challenge is on again and I have already chosen which military ancestor I will write about this year. Anyone can join in and honour one of their military ancestors. Alexander Thomas Davis is also featured in a military display at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum and as he has no descendants, I will write up more about his military service and how he died of wounds not long after he arrived back home at Toorbul

A good bit of my time was again spent on National Family History Month (NFHM). I now have all the new sponsors information on the website and details of the prizes to be won in August. That's a reminder that the competition does not start until 1 August although I know there are some eager people out there already!

I also sent an invitation email to 186 genealogy and family history societies throughout Australia so I hope some of them decide to participate if they don't already. I also have another 50 or so societies for whom I don't have an email address so I am still working on those. Why not encourage your society to participate too, simply refer to all your August activities as NFHM events and enter them into the NFHM web calendar.

I once jokingly said that I needed a medal for all the work I do for NFHM voluntarily and now I have my medal, but not quite for NFHM. Back in 2009 I was awarded AFFHO's (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations) meritorious service award for my family history endeavours in QLD, ACT and VIC over the years. The award is actually a trophy but from this Congress they are also giving a medal which can be worn at AFFHO events which is a nice way of recognising past recipients. Look out for me wearing mine this August!

Tomorrow I am in Maryborough giving three talks for the Maryborough Family Heritage Research Institute and I believe that there are also attendees from other groups as well. Should be a great day but after three talks and however many questions I will be looking for a quiet Sunday. Perhaps even a spot of research or more work on Mum's family history book. Until next time happy searching.

Thursday 2 April 2015

AFFHO Congress wrap up - Genealogy Notes 28 Mar - 3 Apr 2015

It has been a huge week since last Diary. The AFFHO Congress 2015 is over and most of us have returned home and have been busy writing up our post Congress blogs. I had so much to say that it is a three part review. Part One was Days 1 and 2, Part Two was Days 3 and 4 and Part Three was Social Events and Exhibitors. Click on the links to read each part.

Photo taken by Mr Geniaus
As well as my own blogs I have been busy reading what others had to say and there were lots of geneabloggers there. To assist us in finding all these bloggers Geniaus (aka Jill) is compiling a pre, during and post Congress list of blogs. Jill's Geneabloggers at Congress- Reflections has all the links although there might be still more to come. Geniaus and Mr Geniaus are obviously a dynamic duo as he came in to Congress to take the Geneabloggers photo and I think we were mostly all there. That's Jill second from right at the front and you can see the lovely blogger beads that Jill supplied as with. It was a great way to instantly see who was a Geneablogger!

It was only after we got home that I realised that Easter was this weekend and we had one of Max's sons popping in for a short visit, hence the mad effort to finish my blog posts before Easter. We also have a trip down to Brisbane to see Mum and other family members. Easter is the time when my orchids start to flower and I am particularly pleased with this one. The others took a bit of a battering in the storm we had while we were in Canberra.

As always after a Congress, or any genealogy event, I am super motivated and as Mum's birthday is coming up I dragged out my draft family history on her Price family. I originally wrote it back in 2002 when I was in Canberra and of course since then I have added bits and pieces, the usual never ending story. After talking to David from Openbook Howden at Congress, I realised that I could print a few copies for family members at a relatively reasonable price, especially if I just give him a PDF. Of course this means I have to do layout, editing etc myself or they can do it but that costs more. It will depend on how clever I am!

My Easter genealogy exercise is to reread it, do amendments, additions and add in some charts and photographs with the aim of an almost final work by Easter Monday night. It is limited to three generations so I have not mentioned any living people except Mum and I believe she is the last of her generation. I will have to get someone else to read it as you can never pick up all your own mistakes.

Already I have doubts about this goal as so far today I have found new information courtesy of Trove (what else!). Two photos of Mum's uncle, William Price, who went to the Boer War twice and eventually settled in South Africa have surfaced in Trove. Now we finally know what he looked like. If I recheck Trove for everyone mentioned in the Price family draft, then I might just need more than the Easter weekend to finish.

Plus there are the new genealogy books and magazines I bought home to read (see Congress blog posts for titles), not to mention all those Congress papers. I have some new prize sponsors for National Family History Month 2015 so I need to make some more changes to the website and post Easter I am starting the NFHM PR campaign in earnest.

Next weekend (11 April) I will be in Maryborough (QLD) giving three talks for the Maryborough Family Heritage Research Institute - this was the event cancelled back in February due to Cyclone Marcia. Looking forward to that as they are always a good crowd.

Have a safe and happy Easter and where possible, try and sneak in some genealogy time, especially if you are catching up with family members. Happy searching until next time.